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A title run-in should be the pinnacle of fandom — but does stress remove the enjoyment?

Fans of Liverpool, Leeds and Leyton Orient explain the complex emotions of the crunch

What’s that famous Sir Alex Ferguson term, squeaky bum time?

With less than half a dozen fixtures remaining, it’s time for multiple climaxes to satisfy months of anticipation.

For those on the cusp of glory, it should be the pinnacle of fandom.

But as we all know, it’s hope that kills… just ask the home fans at the Etihad on Wednesday night.


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Here, three Dream Team writers attempt to explain the complex emotions involved in a title/promotion race…

Tension

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Tension

ANDREW BUTLER – LEYTON ORIENT FAN – TWO POINTS CLEAR AT THE TOP OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

I didn’t really understand how much the title race had affected my mental state until two Friday nights ago, when I dreamt Leyton Orient had beaten Saturday’s opponents Halifax Town 11-0.

11-0. A ludicrously childish figure for my subconscious to throw into the overnight mixer — perhaps as a defebsive mechanism from the nerve-shredding reality?

Anyway, we scraped a 2-2 draw against Halifax thanks to a last-minute goal from Matt Harrold.

And so the will-we-won’t-we promotion cycle started over again.

What a sponsor, by the way…

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What a sponsor, by the way…

The cycle goes something like this — you look at the league table and see you’re still top. Five minutes later, you do it again. Then, you look at your fixtures, plot out how many points you’ll think you’ll get in the remaining games. After that, you look at your rivals’ fixtures and see how many points you think they’ll get. Then you look back at your previous results and start cursing the times you let a lead slip, without paying any attention to those games you’ve pulled something out of nowhere. You look at the table again. Still top, that’s good – that hasn’t changed in the last two minutes. You load up league tables from the previous seasons to see how many points the champions got and work out how far off you are from them. You look at the table again. It’s still not changed. It’s this, on a loop, every 15 minutes, for upwards of three months.
There are three games left now, and while it’s almost impossible to enjoy in the moment, you know the potential glory will make it all worthwhile.

This means more

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This means more

ADAM JONES – LIVERPOOL FAN – TWO POINTS CLEAR AT THE TOP OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE HAVING PLAYED AN EXTRA GAME

Liverpool could win the Premier League and the Champions League.

And yet I will happily admit this has been undeniably the most painful season of my life.

It is, after all, the hope that kills you.

Every 90 minutes has felt like a lifetime and, seemingly, the rest of the footballing universe is praying we fail.

I definitely wasn’t this grey back in August.

If we finish second with 97 points then so be it — I’m already mentally prepared for it.

City are so obviously the best team in the country anyway — it’s been a mad journey just to take them this far.

Raw emotion

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Raw emotion

NICK ELLIOTT – LEEDS FAN – FOUR POINTS BEHIND CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS

This season has been exciting in the same way a bungee jump is exciting.

And by that I mean, an overdose of adrenaline has just about compensated for the sickening fear.

I see parallels between Leeds and Liverpool — two historic clubs fuelled by passionate fan bases who believe they deserve glory after years of heartbreak.

You only have to look at the LIMBS™ at Elland Road in recent weeks to see how much it means to us — such releases are necessary, we wouldn’t function otherwise.

Marching on together…

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Marching on together…

I feel like I’m on a runaway train that could derail at any time, but as it is we’re hurtling towards our destination at 100mph.

In previous seasons, my emotional investment was generally limited to the 90 minutes come April, because nothing was on the line.

Leeds fans have become accustomed to post-Christmas disinterest — win, lose or draw, it didn’t matter, we were going to finish 15th.

But there’s something at stake this season.

I’m a logical person, I know promotion to the Premier League isn’t the most important thing in the world — but bloody hell, it feels like it.

Are your team in a nail-biting race for the title/promotion? Let us know how you’ve coped on Facebook.


NEXT: The celebration is dead, long live VAR!

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